Caesarea: Ancient Aqueduct Collapses, Highlighting Urgent Need for Conservation

A segment of Caesarea’s ancient aqueduct, which once played a pivotal role in the city’s water supply, tragically collapsed overnight. This section, located on the aqueduct beach—a popular tourist and local spot for swimming—dates back to approximately 1870 years ago, constructed during the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian.

The aqueduct in Caesarea is an impressive testament to ancient engineering and vital to understanding the city’s historical significance. The structure comprises a series of arches that supported a canal, which transported water from springs in the southern Carmel region to Caesarea. These aqueducts provided drinking water to the city, which was a regional capital from the 1st to the 7th century CE. Their construction reflects the city’s growth and the evolving needs for water supply to both the city and its neighboring regions.

Officials from the national antiquities authority were quick to arrive at the scene. A team is set to evaluate the extent of the damage shortly. The importance of conservation was underscored by the events, with repeated warnings in the past about the precarious state of the structure. Documents, plans, and even offers to finance some of the restoration works had previously been proposed, understanding the potential disaster that awaited.

Furthermore, attention has also been drawn to another aqueduct in Acre, which spans about 15 km and is reportedly in an even more critical condition, facing the threat of collapse. Urgent measures are called for by the antiquities authority, appealing to regional councils and development companies to allocate budgets swiftly. The goal is not only to restore the Caesarea aqueduct but also to stabilize the remaining parts of the structure that are at risk.

The incident serves as a stark reminder of the importance of conserving historical sites. The condition of the aqueduct poses a genuine risk to human lives, necessitating immediate action for its preservation. Similarly, the aqueduct in Acre is also in imminent danger of collapsing, underscoring the urgent need for intervention across the region’s historical landmarks

Caesarea's ancient aqueduct

The collapsed portion

(Photo: Mohammed Hattar, antiquities authority)

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